Italy threatens to block EU budget talks

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
Italy threatens to block EU budget talks

Italy is very tired of European ambiguities, very tired of European contradictions

Sandro Gozi Italian Europe Minister
  • EU budget renegotiations underway
  • Italy wants increases in funding
  • Deadline is midnight on Thursday

What is happening?

EU governments and institutions are set for intense budget negotiations ahead of a Thursday deadline.

The European Commission proposed in September that a mid-term review of the current budget should boost spending by 13 billion euros in 2017’2020.

Funds will be reallocated from other areas.

However Italy, which holds a constitutional referendum on December 4th, says it is not satisfied with the plan.

What has Rome said?

Italy wants more funding to be allocated.

“Italy opposes the review of this multi-year budget,” said Italy’s Europe Minister, Sandro Gozi.

“We think we still need a proposal which gives us many more guarantees on a real increase in resources for our nation.”

Gozi said the Italian government considers the failure to guarantee funding increases for the country’s priorities unacceptable.

Speaking on the fringes of a meeting in Brussels, Gozi listed these as migration, security, youth unemployment and research programmes.

“I am thinking of immigration, I am thinking about security, I am thinking about European resources for the young.”

Gozi said Italy was “very tired of European ambiguities, very tired of European contradictions,” and of “a Europe that says certain things but does not do them.”

“We are convinced that if Europe does not change, then we are at the beginning of the disintegration of Europe,” Gozi added.

The budget

The EU operates on the basis of seven-year budgets to finance various projects important for the 28-nation bloc.

The current budget, which ends in 2020, is worth 1.04% of the EU’s gross national income (GNI).

The EU agreed to review its spending priorities by the end of 2016 to reflect economic trends and whatever challenges may arise.

The deadline

The November 17th deadline for a deal between the Commission, EU governments and the EU parliament stems from a 21-day legal conciliation period that started in October.

If there was no deal by midnight on Thursday. the Commission will have to make a new proposal to be negotiated by mid-December.

This is this year’s final plenary sitting of the European Parliament.


In October, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi warned Italy may block the EU budget if it does not get help dealing with the migrant emergency.

“We give 20 billion to Europe and the EU gives us back 12, but if Hungary or Slovakia preach to us about migrants and don’t give us a hand and when want our money, we will say ‘there is no way, absolutely’,” Renzi said at the time.